Homosexuality and Fornication: Bedfellows?

A former professor of mine has stated that “Christians who condone premarital sex, either explicitly or tacitly, have no principled reason to object to homosexual activity.” Further, Dr. Walls claims that people who “ignore scriptural teaching on premarital sex, and the clear consensus of the Church that such behavior is sinful … are hardly in a position to get too worked up about the Biblical prohibition of homosexual behavior.” This seems specious prima facie, but let’s give it an honest look.

Here is the line of reasoning which I believe he holds. We have essential beliefs A and B, which are that (A) premarital sex is wrong, and (B) same-sex sexual activity is wrong. C, Christianity, is true only in case of both A and B. We may state this also as C implies A and C implies B.

From this logic, it is clear that if A is not true, then C is not true, either. Therefore, if anyone were to reject A and state that premarital sex is okay at least in some circumstances, then there would be no way for anyone to hold to B, either — at least not on the grounds of C, Christianity.

There are two ways to address this: first, we must clarify that any serious changes to general Christian sexual ethics are not made in ignorance of historical teachings. Rather, they reflect nuanced positions in light of changing cultural demands and expectations, thus the spirit of both A and B survive in the Christian desire for justice. We see here that the change in our stance on same-sex relations was made knowingly and not lightly, not just because we have loose morals or theological ignorance. I have already written about this topictwice, in fact — so be sure to read through those posts.

More importantly, though, we need to dismantle and discredit the narrative that increasing acceptance of gender/sexual minorities by Christian is related to sin. This is a shameful tactic which indicates a refusal to grapple with the issue at the level of seriousness it necessitates.

In truth, changing views on homosexuality are about standing in solidarity with the downtrodden and despised. Sure, there are likely people jumping on the bandwagon to remain part of the in-crowd. Maybe there is some degree of that with me; I can never be sure. But I have given much to maintain my beliefs, even against some people very close to me. And I constantly hear of how much people have to lose — or have lost — in standing up for this issue.

I’ve been through my own share of religiously-inspired trauma, as has my wife. It has hurt us significantly, and there is at least some long-term damage in both of us. If what we experienced hurt us so badly, though, I cannot imagine what kind of torture it must be to told that one is an abomination to God, that their naturally-arising desires are a result of sin, that their love is tainted, etc.

We have to count the human cost of our beliefs. This isn’t just about being correct, though of course I believe I have taken the correct position (or else I would believe something else). Put yourself in the position of a gay teenager who hearing the line of reasoning in Dr. Walls argument: the only reason his friends support him is because they’ve weakened their ethics in general. Now even the love shown to him by others is suspect. Imagine the paranoia and self-doubt.

I’ve heard all sorts of statistics that same-sex couples have more problems than straight couples. Of course they do: a good portion of society has told them to doubt who they are. They have refused to support those couples in times of need. They have cast them out, spit on them, rejected them, and tried to ruin their lives. By contrast, the movement to support gays and lesbians is our attempt to fulfill the words of Matthew 25:31-43:

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

Secular supporters of gay marriage may often say they want to be on the right side of history. What they call “history,” though, I will call Jesus Christ. We will stand to account for our actions, and if in our quest for theological certainty we abandon those in need, then our good theology will see us damned.

Support of same-sex relationships is not about loosening Christian morals. It is about Christ-like solidarity with those whom society has cast out, even if it means going against what we have been raised to believe. If the conversation between conservative and progressive Christians is to continue, then it must be in terms of how best to support the gay community, not in terms of fabricated excuses for changes in belief.

This post is part of The Despised Ones’ synchroblog on the topic of solidarity and social justice.

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About Chris Attaway

Raised in the digital wilderness of the pre-Internet 2.0 era, Chris Attaway is a true gamer and Internet citizen. After a stint studying computer science, his life got flipped turned upside down, and he ended up studying philosophy to help him sort out his life. Now the black sheep in a family of engineers, he has set out to get his footing in the world of freelance journalism. With interests ranging from gaming and technology to LGBT rights, race and politics, Chris is a diverse and skilled writer who always tries to give a fair shake to his subjects.
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13 Responses to Homosexuality and Fornication: Bedfellows?

  1. braudcj says:

    I wonder if there isn’t a black and white fallacy implicit here, Chris. Do you mean to suggest I can’t honestly love a person and provide for them if I believe they have sinful desires? I’m not at all pleased with the way so many advocates for homosexuality paint the picture as one of love vs. hate.

    • Quite the contrary; in the final sentence, I characterize how we must carry on the future of the debate. The fact is that we have marginalized and cast out homosexuals, and the question is not how do we invent excuses for why some have started to accept them but how best to support them.

      Honestly, even as I disagree with the Catholic position on the subject, I can respect their stance that homosexuality occurs naturally but that they should remain celibate. At the very least, it acknowledges the reality of homosexual personhood.

  2. Ken Nichols says:

    We need to stop defining people by their sin (or supposed lack of). We are all sinners, so it matters not whether homosexuality is a sin. If it is, then the Spirit will route it out when He sees fit in a person’s life. It has NOTHING to do with anyone else. We should be defining people by the LOVE God has for them, and by that standard, we are all equal. If homosexuality in a person’s life results in them NOT showing love, then it’s wrong. I believe it if SHOWS love, a genuine love that values another human more highly than themselves, then I find it hard to call it “wrong”. Love is the standard, not the law.

    • I sympathize with the sentiment, and this reasoning may be okay for people who are on the fence, but I think it is important to stress that it is *not* a sin but a naturally occurring phenomenon which comprises the sexual identity of certain individuals.

      • stasisonline says:

        And jealousy and theft and hate are naturally occurring too.

      • Sin is a perversion of the natural. There is nothing wrong with sexual attraction to members of one’s own gender other than that an ancient society had a holy text that forbade it.

      • stasisonline says:

        I guess you can define sin that way if you like, but I dont think it’s the standard definition.

      • The classical understanding of evil in Christianity is privation of being. Fullness of being is the totality of what it means to be good.

      • stasisonline says:

        It seems that you want to generalise in order to reach a definition of sin, and then to use that definition as the measuring stick for determining what is and isnt sin. I see some logic and sense of order in having an algorithm like that, but that approach risks error at the point at which the generalising takes place and in the reinterpretation of the generalisation. For example, before you know it, you start to theorise that sharing your jacket with the man who has none, brings depravation to you, and therefore is sinful; a conclusion which of course would be in contradiction to what Jesus reputedly said.

      • That definition goes back to Augustine.

      • Ken Nichols says:

        I think we have a deep-seated desire to know what is “sin” and what isn’t. I believe this goes back to Adam and Eve. They ate from the “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil” so they could KNOW what was sin and what wasn’t. Anyone notice they didn’t feel ashamed to be naked (which they always had been, and even so in front of God DAILY) UNTIL they had “gained” this “knowledge”. We think having this knowledge will enable us to please God. But God didn’t and doesn’t want or need us to know this. He just wants us to trust Him and love Him and each other. We want definitions, explanations and lines in the sand. When asked a similar question, Jesus said everything boiled down to two commands, love God and love your neighbor as yourself. If whatever you’re doing doesn’t violate that (and truly only YOU and God know this of your heart) then it’s fine. Therefore I believe homosexuality itself is not a sin. Like nearly EVERYTHING else, it’s what you DO with it that determines whether it loves or not.

  3. Chris, great stuff, especially the finish. Well done.

  4. stasisonline says:

    “I cannot imagine what kind of torture it must be to told that one is an abomination to God”. Indeed. I once searched the Bible to find a basis for labelling a person as an abomination, and I could find no basis. In the Bible, homosexual behaviour is described as abomination (Leviticus 18:22), but I could not find any instance of people being described as abomination.

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